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Advocacy Skills and Tips. Saturday, April 18, 2009 Bloomington IEA office. Member Rights. “An injury to one is a concern to all.” Slogan of the Knights of Labor, circa 1880’s. National Labor Relations Act. NLRA. Passed in 1935 Prior to passage, employers were allowed to: Spy on,

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advocacy skills and tips

Advocacy Skills and Tips

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bloomington IEA office

member rights
Member Rights
  • “An injury to one is a concern to all.”
    • Slogan of the Knights of Labor, circa 1880’s.
  • Passed in 1935
  • Prior to passage, employers were allowed to:
    • Spy on,
    • Interrogate,
    • Discipline, fire and blacklist union members
  • The NLRA declares collective bargaining as an official policy of the United States.
  • Employers are forbidden from discriminating against workers who join unions, exercise leadership or engage in legal strikes.
  • Section 7:
    • Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection.
  • Section 8 defines employer violations, known as unfair labor practices, or ULPs.
  • ULPS include:
    • Interference, restraint, or coercion directed against union or other collective activities.
  • ULPS include:
    • Creation or domination of a labor organization
    • Discrimination against employees to discourage support for a union
    • Retaliation for filing ULP charges or cooperating with the NLRB
  • ULPS include:
    • Refusal to bargain in good faith with union representatives
  • Section 8 also defines union ULPs, which include:
    • Unfair representation
    • Bargaining in bad faith
    • Illegal strikes
illinois law1
Illinois Law
  • Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act
    • Under the IELRA, covered employees may:
      • Organize, form, join, or assist in employee organizations, or engage in lawful concerted activities for the purposes of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection, or bargain collectively through representatives of their own free choice. Except as limited by the Act, employees also have the right to refrain from any or all such activities.
illinois law2
Illinois Law
  • The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board makes and enforces rules necessary to carry out the Act.
  • Appeals to the Labor Board’s decisions are made to the First or Fourth District Appellate Courts.
special status of representatives1
Special Status of Representatives
  • Any member can serve as a representative for another member, at any time.
  • Special status applies to any member who serves as a representative, each and every time.
special status of representatives2
Special Status of Representatives
  • Confrontation is a necessary part of the union representative’s job.
  • Labor law grants a special status to union representatives.
special status of representatives3
Special Status of Representatives
  • Traditional workplace norms: employee must be respectful and obedient towards management.
  • Under NLRA, when acting as a union representative, status is elevated to equality with management.
special status of representatives4
Special Status of Representatives
  • When acting as a representative, you are allowed to:
    • Speak impulsively, especially if provoked
    • Swear
    • Speak loudly
    • Speak frankly
    • Demean your supervisor’s intelligence
    • Threaten lawful protests
special status of representatives5
Special Status of Representatives
  • Aggressive advocacy is not always necessary, or appropriate, but it is not insubordination!
special status of representatives6
Special Status of Representatives
  • Immunity applies:
    • When acting as a union representative
    • In informal and formal meetings
special status of representatives7
Special Status of Representatives
  • HOWEVER. . .
    • Being a union representative does not grant you a general right to tell your supervisors to “shove it!”
special status of representatives8
Special Status of Representatives
  • Special status does not apply:
    • When you take issue with your own work assignment
    • When you debate your own job performance
    • When you receive notice of discipline
special status of representatives9
Special Status of Representatives
  • You are not protected by law if you:
    • Use extreme profanity
    • Use racial/sexual slurs
    • Threaten physical harm
    • Cause physical harm
special status of representatives10
Special Status of Representatives
  • Location is a factor:
    • What is considered appropriate behind closed doors would not be considered appropriate in the middle of the school cafeteria.
  • Exception:
    • If provoked by similar language or actions by the supervisor, you may respond in kind.
special status of representatives11
Special Status of Representatives
  • Management cannot hold union representatives to a higher standard or impose a greater punishment for a similar offense.
right to representation1
Right to Representation
  • Right to representation:
    • The employee must request such representation.
    • The request should be made at the earliest opportunity.
right to representation2
Right to Representation
  • Unlike a Miranda warning, which is required, school administrators do not have to advise members of their right to representation.
  • Failure to notify a member of his/her right to representation is not a ULP.
right to representation3
Right to Representation
  • However. . .
    • If a member requests representation and the request is denied, the Association CAN file a ULP, even if the member continues with the interview or meeting.
right to representation4
Right to Representation
  • Right to representation:
    • The employer has the option to agree, or to proceed with investigation without interviewing the employee.
    • The employee can agree to forego representation – but then no ULP exists.
right to representation5
Right to Representation
  • Right to representation:
    • The local can bargain additional rights for representation, including the right to have a representative present during post-evaluation conferences.
right to representation6
Right to Representation
  • Law guarantees the right to “a” representative of your choosing, not “the” representative of your choosing.


  • The administration does not have the right to pick the union representative for the member.
right to representation7
Right to Representation
  • Illinois law states that an employee is entitled to “knowledgeable representation,” but not necessarily the representation of his/her choosing.
  • The employer does not need to delay proceedings to wait for a trained union representative or someone with prior experience representing employees in disciplinary matters.
right to representation8
Right to Representation
  • However, it doesn’t hurt to ask if a meeting can be rescheduled for a time when the representative of your choice is available.
  • Make sure the request is reasonable; asking to wait a few hours is acceptable; asking to wait a few days is not.
right to representation9
Right to Representation
  • Right to representation:
    • A member should NEVER refuse to attend a meeting with an administrator even if his/her request for representation is denied. Attend the meeting now; grieve or file a ULP later.
before a meeting
Before a meeting
  • Informal meetings are often impromptu.
    • Either the representative or the member should gather as much information from the administrator as possible prior to the meeting.
    • Insist on a few minutes for a private conversation between the member and the representative before the meeting starts.
before a meeting1
Before a meeting
  • Members should:
    • Immediately write down everything that happened
    • Include:
      • Name, date, location/s
      • Names of involved persons
      • Witnesses
      • Actual words spoken
before a meeting2
Before a meeting
  • Members should:
    • Get advice early from AR/other Association advisors
    • Keep copies of all correspondence, papers, etc related to the matter
      • All such material should be kept AT HOME, not at school
before a meeting3
Before a meeting
  • Words of advice:
    • Do not respond spontaneously to charges
    • Do not appear alone at any meetings regarding the incident
    • Do not attempt to represent yourself
before a meeting4
Before a meeting
  • Words of advice:
    • Do not accept an “opportunity to resign”
    • Do not agree to any proposals without a thorough review and time to consider all actions
    • Do not submit any written statement to administration without having someone else review it
before a meeting5
Before a meeting
  • The first stage of an incident and the moments/hours immediately following are often filled with trauma and stress.
  • This stress can inhibit clear and rational thinking.
during a meeting
During a meeting
  • Initial meetings are often “fishing expeditions” for administrators.
  • The representative’s primary role at the initial meeting is to be a witness and to keep the meeting focused on its stated purpose.
  • Every meeting is unique.
during a meeting1
During a meeting
  • Look for problems.
  • Regard your supervisor as an equal as you attempt to resolve problems.
  • Do not be intimidated.
  • Be constructive.
during a meeting2
During a meeting
  • If you are alone and the meeting starts to go badly, read your Union Rights card and request that the meeting be rescheduled.
  • If you are denied that request, continue the meeting, do not talk, and take detailed notes.
during a meeting3
During a meeting
  • If you are the representative and the meeting becomes verbally abusive and/or the member needs a break, you may ask for one.
  • You may end the meeting and ask to reschedule if the situation becomes out of hand.
after a meeting
After a meeting
  • After the meeting, the member/representative should
    • Maintain confidentiality.
    • Keep local president informed of pending or possible grievances.
    • Create a summary report/summarize notes.
    • Call for help at any time!
don t go there

Don’t Go There!

When to call IEA 5 minutes ago

don t go there1
Don’t Go There!
  • DCFS investigations
  • Criminal allegations
  • Sexual harassment/inappropriate touching
don t go there2
Don’t Go There!
  • Assault on an employee
  • Member to member conflict, including harassment concerns
  • Workers Compensation, Discrimination, Unemployment concerns
  • Not every complaint is a grievance.
  • Every contract must have a grievance policy which ends in binding arbitration.
what is a grievance
What is a grievance?
  • Each contract is different, but basic language is:
    • A grievance shall mean a written complaint by a member of the bargaining unit or the Association that there has been an alleged violation, misinterpretation, or misapplication of any provision(s) of this Agreement.
grievance processing
Grievance Processing
  • A good grievance policy will include the following:
    • Definitions
    • Timeline and steps or levels
    • Representation
    • Mutual waivers of steps of levels
    • Selection of arbitrator
    • Cost of arbitration – what is split
    • No reprisal clause
principals of a good grievance procedure
Principals of a good grievance procedure
  • The procedure must include a clear definition of the problem which constitutes a grievance.
  • The procedure must be simple and easily understood.
  • All time limits must be clearly stated.
principals of a good grievance procedure1
Principals of a good grievance procedure
  • The process must encourage prompt resolution.
  • Resolution at the lowest possible level should be encouraged.
principles of a good grievance procedure
  • Absolute freedom from coercion, intimidation or reprisal must be assured.
  • Management should agree that they will cooperate with the Association’s investigation of any grievance.
  • The employee must have a clear right to the assistance and support of the Association.
  • Binding arbitration by a neutral third party must be the final step in the procedure.
writing a grievance
  • Writing a grievance statement usually initiates the formal stage in a grievance procedure.
grievance form
  • Date of grievance
  • Statement of the grievance
  • Contract/policy provision(s) violated
  • Remedy Sought
  • Date filed/Level of grievance
  • Signature
grievance form1
Grievance Form
  • CCs to grievant, grievance representative, Association president, immediate supervisor, superintendent, IEA
next steps
Next Steps
  • Typically, the next step in the grievance procedure is to submit the grievance in writing to the Superintendent.
  • The next step is generally a meeting before the Board; however, some polices skip this step.
  • The final step is binding arbitration.
prevent a dfr suit by avoiding
  • Bias
  • Discrimination
  • Arbitrary & capricious reasons for denial
  • Negligence